A Close Examination of the Relationship Between Self-Compassion and Depressive Symptoms

Angelica Lopez*, Robbert Sanderman, Maya J. Schroevers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
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Self-compassion has shown to be beneficial for individuals' wellbeing; in particular, it has been associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms. The purpose of this study was to further explore the association between self-compassion, as measured by the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), and depressive symptoms, in a large representative sample of community adults (n=734, Mean age=55.7, SD=15.2). We examined the association of depressive symptoms with the SCS total score, the SCS six subscales (i.e., self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness, self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification), and the SCS positive and negative items (referred to as self-compassion and self-coldness, respectively). In addition, we explored the predictive ability of self-compassion, self-coldness, and the SCS six subscales on depressive symptoms both cross-sectionally and over a 1-year period of time. Finally, we sought to test the moderating role of self-compassion on the association between self-coldness and depressive symptoms. Results showed that the SCS negative items and subscales were more strongly related to depressive symptoms than the SCS positive items and subscales. Accordingly, self-coldness was a stronger predictor of depressive symptoms, cross-sectionally and over a 1-year timeframe, when compared with self-compassion. Particularly, the feeling of being isolated was shown to be strongly associated with depressive symptoms. We did not find substantial evidence for a moderating role of self-compassion on the association between self-coldness and depressive symptoms. Future research needs to determine the added value of assessing self-coldness and whether or not it is an essential part of self-compassion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1478
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2018


  • Self-compassion
  • Self-coldness
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Interaction
  • Longitudinal

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